The PMI was bolstered by gains in orders and manufacturing output.
"The headline indexes from the Philly Fed and Empire State surveys were up strongly in February, with broad-based improvement in details, suggesting healthy activity in the manufacturing sector". Of 18 manufacturing industries the index tracks, 17 reported growth, led by textile mills and apparel, leather and allied products.
The February PMI, the index used by the ISM to measure growth, came in a 57.7 (a reading of 50 or higher indicates growth), which was 1.7 percent ahead of January, marking the highest monthly PMI reading going back to August 2014's 57.9.
"The past relationship between the PMI and the overall economy indicates. a 4.3 percent increase in real gross domestic product on an annualized basis", wrote Bradley Holcomb, chair of the ISM Manufacturing Business Survey Committee, in the release.
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"We continue to see strength around the auto industry", said Steve Menaker, industry leader for consulting firm RSM US (Chicago).
"Firmer demand, domestic and foreign, is setting the stage for meaningful improvement in the manufacturing sector, but much depends on the evolution of US fiscal, regulatory, and trade policy in the months ahead", wrote Moody, of Regions Financial. The only somewhat soft spot was employment, which still expanded, but at a slower rate, slipping to 54.2 from 56.1. There is, he said, "at least the feel of sustained demand for automobiles". The PMI is based on five major indicators: new orders, inventory levels, production, supplier deliveries and the employment environment.
"Euro area manufacturers are reporting the strongest production and order-book growth for nearly six years, in what's looking like an increasingly robust upturn", said Mr Chris Williamson, chief economist at IHS Markit.